Elena Akaeva: Performance as an Endless Action
Elena Akaeva
Performance artists invent the human future; they consciously do not constrain themselves with the patterns of ordinary social behaviour and are busy creating and showing a more desirable reality. The daily practise of a performance artist is a daily laboratory for inventing ways and opportunities to be a person at the present time. A performance artist independently chooses a representational spectrum (gender, sexuality, nationality, political position, and so on), a set of tools (body, absence of body, digital presence, and so on), and the value content of his practise (emotion, concrete useful work, liberation practise, acts of resistance, and so on). And the more contrasting and unpredictable the components of the performative practise are chosen, the more vivid and multifaceted the figure of the performance artist becomes. One such outstanding and unique artist will be discussed today.

On March 24, 2023, in London, Great Britain, Elena Akaeva performed her art piece "Clay". This is a procedural act similar to a pre-Christian ritual act that combines many contextual plans and references to the present and the past. During the performance, the audience has the opportunity to cover Elena's naked body with clay and give this clay absolutely any shape. The specificity of the material is that during the performance, the clay gradually dries up; that is, the imaginary freedom and plasticity end where the laws of material existence come into effect. As in most of Elena Akaeva's performances, the imaginary dichotomy of the world is represented and criticised here, that is, the division into passivity and activity; living and dead; protected and unprotected; flexible and frozen. Clay refers us to a whole mythological cluster: the Islamic myth of the creation of mankind from ringing clay; Jewish golems; the myth of Pygmalion; and so on. A performance artist models the imaginary passivity of a person in front of society; however, in order to surrender to society, you need to take a strong-willed step. On the other hand, the performance artist here creates a situation of multiple identities: a willing victim, an initiator actor, a laboratory experiment, and a true observer. Elena creates a field of paradoxes where all established concepts and roles lose their meanings and double or triple. The performance ceases to be only a performance and also becomes a city meeting, a ritual, and a place of execution and awarding. Elena's body ceases to be only her own; it becomes a public body—public flesh, if I may say so. The viewer becomes a part of Elena's body and becomes a participant in the hardening of identities under the influence of inexorable time. In the end, any major social phenomenon goes through the stages of explosion, fluidity of forms, and petrification for the sake of social stability. This has been the case with all forms of religiosity and politicality, and it is also happening with contemporary art of the last two centuries. Viewers of Elena Akaeva's performance every time get an incredible chance to become an accomplice of the sacrament, a revisionist act, and simply a cool and professionally created work of contemporary performative art.
Elena Akaeva is a virtuoso and super-unpredictable performance artist; each of her performances is a poignant and piercing statement about the reality hidden from us by the cultural layers of past eras. She heroically and selflessly returns reality to us as it really is, eliminating the matrix of someone else's authoritative perception. Her practise through a network of complex referral links is consonant with the practise of such American performance artists as Lynda Benglis and Yayoi Kusama. Through her practise, Elena complicates and develops contemporary performance art and is a bright star of a new generation of contemporary performance artists. Despite her young age, she already has an international vocation and regularly shows new works in various places in Western Europe.
If you have the opportunity to attend Elena Akaeva's performance, you will certainly not regret it, and perhaps it will change your perception of the world and your role in it.

Jenya Stashkov